On October 10th, 2023, the Irish Government announced a scheme to protect breeding waders in the republic, as part of a broad investment in nature and the environment. The scheme, which includes a €30 million investment in the Breeding Wader EIP (European Innovation Partnership), was celebrated by BirdWatch Ireland, who had previously called for “at least €30 million” in support for farmers to protect breeding waders.
However, CEO Linda Lennon warned “[The measures] must be targeted and implemented correctly. Farmers have long wanted to act for nature but have lacked the funding to enable them to do so”. The Government’s announcement did not specify details of how the funding is to be used.
This is the latest in a number of announcements aimed at protecting Ireland’s wildlife. The ACRES Co-operation scheme, with about €1.5 billion in funding, was started in 2022, aiming to provide income support, education, specialist training and sustainable development for up to 50,000 Irish farmers. The more targeted Curlew Conservation programme of 2017 aimed to protect the eponymous locally endangered bird from nest damage, predation and habitat loss, with a budget that has been steadily rising since inception, now standing at €500,000 as of 2022.
Six of Ireland’s eight regularly occurring waders – the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Dunlin Calidris alpina, European Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Common Redshank Tringa totanus and Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago – are locally endangered. Much of this is driven by changing land use, with the intensification of agriculture, afforestation and draining of peatlands, all cited as factors to the decline of Ireland’s wading birds. Nest predation is also noted as a significant factor.